He is the father of the protagonists, Edward and Alphonse Elric. He is a brilliant and well-known alchemist. He left Ed, Al, and their mother Trisha when Al was a baby and when Ed was very young. Years later, Ed still holds a grudge against him for abandoning his mother, which he believes contributed to her death.
In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, he is referred to as "Van Hohenheim," not Hohenheim Elric. As Edward Elric points out in book 14 of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, "Elric is my mother's name!"
In the 2003 anime
Hohenheim has been alive for centuries. He worked in a lab, which took advantage of "witch trials" as human bait, to create the first Philosopher's Stone. He succeeded, but it cost him his life. Dante, his lover at the moment, attached his soul (much like Al to armor) to the nearest man in the room, reviving Hohenheim. They continued this practice for many years, until Hohenheim fell in love and married Trisha Elric. After he sired Edward and Alphonse, he left for fear that Dante would use them against him, and also because he felt ashamed of his past. Like Dante, his flesh was wearing away, so he wore cologne to mask the scent. He can transmute without circles, because when he died, he saw past the gate, as did Dante.
In the manga and 2009 anime
Hohenheim is a human Philosopher's Stone. Homunculus (Father) was a test subject at a lab in which Hohenheim worked (in fact, Father was the one who named Hohenheim). The king of Xerxes demanded the secret of immortality from the homunculus, and he obliged. A country wide transmutation was formed, and everything had been working as planned. However, at the last minute, Father lies about where the center of the circle is, and engulfs both himself and Hohenheim into the gate. Hohenheim wakes to see everybody in his country dead. He meets Homunculus, who tells him everything and how he has now gained half of the powers of the stone. Homunculus did this out of gratitude, and after these events, Hohenheim travels to Xing and founds the art of Alkahestry.
Now is the time of year when family members from both near and far gather to reconnect. This goes for anime family members as well. Check out this list of 15 of the most memorable anime families out there, who have gathered just in time for the holidays! Just remember, every anime is different...
Fullmetal Alchemist (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi) deals with some pretty heavy material: loss, revenge, good, evil, love, death. It has it all! Because the show has so much substance, there are some absolutely beautiful quotes that are sure to inspire any viewer.